Year 2016 – The Pressure

– Family
There was a dramatic change in my family as my elder brother and his wife moved to their new BTO flat at Marsiling, together with Luckie. From a badly clustered house to a house with only three people left, the sound of silence filled the atmosphere most of the time. There used to be a lot of unhappiness for everyone had very different lifestyle that we wanted to live in. The limited space had always been causing frustration and thus I could firmly testify against those rich hypocrites who were running the country akin to North Korea. I was probably too used to hearing complaint from my younger brother about how the couple forgot to switch off the toilet’s light and my mum who would bottom up every matter to grumble only in front of my younger brother and I.

With the reduction of conflicts, loneliness began taking over. I knew well even with the very limited help in finance in the past, my elder brother actually contributed in other ways. I never wanted to part with my elder brother but I knew it was inevitable. It was simply impossible for them to get a house within or near the CBD area – apart from having limited space for new flats, the price would be scary. Sooner or later, we had to move far away from the city.

I helped out a lot in packing up the remaining stuff to bring over to my brother’s new place. It took quite a number of trips to empty the room they used to stay in, even though my mum quickly turned the room almost as messy as before. It was not because she wanted to keep a memory of my elder brother by creating similar mess, but because she was simply a collector of everything. Somehow, everything could somehow turn useful one day for the poor, maybe no in near future.

Apart from the sadness from the moving out of my elder brother, Luckie’s absence in the house was a big blow to me. I was the one who used to sleep with him when he first joined my family. Since I worked from home, I was the one who had spent the most time with him. It was also because of him, I always hesitated to leave the house since he had fear in loneliness. I stopped my occasion afternoon jog to places like Marina Barrage and Henderson Waves mainly because of him.

The most dramatic thing happened soon after they moved out as Luckie got his first slip disc problem. His lower back caused his legs to become strengthless. After his operation, I went over to take care of him during weekdays since both my elder brother and sister-in-law had to work. Seeing Luckie in such sorry state hurt me a lot. Before he was fully recovered, he had a second slip disc that caused him greater pain than ever. Just as I thought Luckie would be out of my life, the couple spent another 10 grands to save him. I did my part by going over to take care of Luckie during weekdays.

– Friends
The closest friend I had was as usual, Gilbert. He helped me in everything without expecting anything in return – not that I was able to help him much in anything. Apart from him and my volleyball friends, I hardly had many chances to meet up with old friends. I also made many new friends through photography even though it was back to business that not everyone would keep in touch with me after they had gotten what they wanted.

– Relationship
In the third quarter of the year, my relationship ended. She was the most intelligent girl I had ever being with but we had very different priorities in life. She was more into the YOLO lifestyle while I was still struggling with my own life to make ends meet. There were also some differences that we had always struggled with, such as I felt obligated to stay over at my elder brother’s place to look after Luckie but she was fed up for she knew I was unable to work over there without even a proper table. I always felt bad for my mum’s attitude towards her even though she had always been showing respect and offering helps. Unfortunately, it was a bad start after all and my mum was more inflexible than me. I was glad both of us had tried very hard after all. I blamed myself for I was unable to give her a better life – not that I was able to.

– Health
Cough caught up with me for months and I knew well I did not recover because of the food I had been eating – my mum loved spicy food and she would deny cooking them. As for my injuries, my ex-girlfriend helped a lot. After her mum brought me to a Chinese doctor, my back injury improved a lot because it did not ache very regularly. Since she had learned some massages on the acupuncture points, she also improved the conditions of my other injuries, such as my right shoulder. Towards the end of the end, I suffered from a new injury on my left shoulder after carrying the bulky and heavy camera equipment for too long – the nerve was pressed too much that I felt weakness on my left arm.

– Finance
The tuition agency business dropped tremendously since both of my main coordinators were too busy with their lives. One of them had too much family issues to handle while another could buy a condominium just by giving tuition lessons instead. They were both not obligated to spend their time to help me in my business and thus I was more than happy that they still spent some time whenever possible to take up some assignments. Whereas for the rest of the coordinators, they were busy with their lives too.

For my photography services, I was still unable to make any breakthrough as there was a huge competition from photographers who undercutted the market while most enquiries were from clients with low budget. I knew the standard of my work and the market rates, and my strong principle insisted me not to lower down my value or further harm the photography market.

Websites were down

Some of my websites that are hosted in the same server as this blog were down for the past couple of days. I thought it was due to problems with either WordPress or the fact that the server was undergoing some “upgrades”.

I decided to take action just now and send a ticket to resolve the issue.

The “beautiful” reply was “An email was sent to [email] on January 22nd by our abuse team. In the message there was: “Your account [name] has been compromised and used to host infected files. For this reason we have blocked the web access to the site. Please use the FTP service to check and clean the files of your account. ” ”

I used my FTP to down all the files on the server, which took one or two hours because the server was based in Canada (if I didn’t remember wrongly) and that there were uncounted number of files for each copy of WordPress. Then, I used my antivirus to scan through the files to remove two infected files. I removed the entire folder of the WordPress copy on the server before dragging the scanned folder over. I replied the person before I rushed out. After returning home, I saw their reply that my websites were reinstated.

I actually paid an upfront cost for around ten years for this server, which was why it was considered dirt cheap. However, I didn’t expect the service to be like shit. My important sites are hosted in local Singapore server and thus I hardly ever access the server to make changes to my websites.

They could have done something to protect their server like installing antivirus software. Once they detect any infected files, they could quarantine or delete the files straightaway, and inform me of the paths of the infected files directly. It’s ridiculous for them to simply inform me that my account has been compromised and simply block it. Somehow, I didn’t even receive their email.

Funio.com, you are a very bad webhost and I wouldn’t recommend your service to others. You’re just a webhosting company that collects the full payment and treat your poor customers as dirt.

Emptiness

Have you ever get prepared to be called up onto the stage without knowing the cause and eventually gone into a blank state of mind no matter how much you have prepared?

Speechless. Helpless.

It’s just me. I’m not capable enough.

Year 2015 – On the Verge of Breaking Down

Relationship

The most significant changes of the year was the removal of my “single” status. I was never ready to be grounded because reality was cruel and that money was as important as oxygen in Singapore; I didn’t want to take up responsibility that I couldn’t shoulder. Without money, I didn’t have time. For the past countless number of years, I had been alone not because I hadn’t met any nice girl, but because I wasn’t ready and thus didn’t take any action. In year 2015, while career was still vague, I still wasn’t ready yet.

As a photographer, I had countless interaction with pretty and hot girls. Most people would probably think that I was a typical superficial guy who would only go for “super model” type of girls with hourglass figure and flawless looks. Looks would fade but every aspect I loved about her would stay. She wasn’t my ideal type of girl by looks for I had always favoured the athletic build or “SYT” types of girls but her intelligence proved to be more tempting. Nobody could understand me more than her, although nothing and no one was perfect. She had also showed her thoughtfulness and tolerance towards me. Our communication was great and it was rare for anyone to achieve that with me. She had been my personal doctor and English tutor, displaying her excessive talents and appreciation for her imperfect boyfriend.

The biggest problem was that she was extremely clingy, which I liked, yet couldn’t afford to enjoy due to work. My mum often acted as if I was jobless, in fact, she treated any job without CPF contribution from a boss not a job. Therefore, the amount of time I had to spend on the two women was really killing me and sometimes I wished I could just give up on everything and laze around at home just to entertain both of them. There was a few times we got to meet each other for seven days straight. She was also a superwoman who could multitask and text me regularly. Work got piled up as my production rate declined badly. I couldn’t do some of my internet marketing work while I was forced to delay some essential tasks, such as posting my work within the golden hours. My private photographs taken with friends during outing would be delayed for many months before I could squeeze some time to work on them. Whenever she behaved like a little girl while showing her appreciation to me for doing some things, I felt more pressurized than ever for she was unintentionally expecting me to do even more when I had already pushed myself to the limit. Her optimism was a double edged sword for the positiveness would influence me; however, she took things far too easily, which differed from my style of doing things.

The journey to adapt to each other’s flaws proceeded beyond the end of the year.

Family

I continued to be the free receptionist of the family since I was at home most of the time. Everyone, except my mum, had been purchasing items online and the delivery-men would trigger the dogs’ (Luckie and the neighbour’s crazy dog) barking often. Salesmen, surveyors, flyer distributors and retired neighbours were culprits too. No matter how much you loved a dog, sudden loud barks would definitely make you “jump”. I was also abused by telephone calls from weird friends of my family even though everyone already had a mobile phone to attend to their friends. Luckie continued to bother me by waking me up with his barking and then pestering me either for food or to bring him down for a walk. My only break-time was when my elder brother reached home and until my sister-in-law went to sleep – Luckie would be locked out of the bedroom, which finally saw a change for the later half of the year. My mum would even call me just to check the location of anyone or if she had forgotten to switch any appliance off. Very often, she would also turn back to the gate after leaving home to ask me to pass her her forgotten items like mobile phone or keys. Instead of calling my mum directly, my elder brother would sometimes text me to tell my mum when he wasn’t coming home for dinner. Despite my mum would always go to my younger brother to seek help, nobody realised I was the one who had spent most time entertaining her since my elder brother would be inside the room whenever he was at home while my younger brother was not at home most of the time and slept before my mum got home from work. I was the one who had to listen to her grandma stories multiple times because she would tell me directly, loud over the phone to her many friends and then to my siblings. I even had to answer to my mum over any new or misplaced item in the house since I was home most of the time and she expected everyone to notify me everything. The list of problems was too long to be remembered. The perfect job of working from home was soiled badly, affecting the progress of my work.

The harmony was shaken a few times throughout the year in the low income family, having too many people squeezing inside a small house of two bedrooms. The biggest argument was about fairness. We spoke up our minds and finally, around five years since Luckie joined our family, my elder brother started allowing him to sleep inside the bedroom instead of bothering me at night when I was working.

My younger brother had his own way of pampering my mum that I totally couldn’t agree on, because it caused my mum to be extremely over relying on us while he wasn’t at home most of the time. My mum was often simply behaving like a kid and thus it was definitely more challenging. Being filial didn’t have to be overdone, even though most people would agree to over-pampering her since they didn’t know the full scenario. I was the quiet observer in my house who stayed at home most of the time and nobody knew what was going on better than me. I knew there should be a limit to everything and besides, I had my own limit too. To put it in simple words, I wasn’t as capable as my younger brother in term of money-making and I really sucked at it.

Friends

I owed a lot to Gilbert. He appeared most of the time in my monthly hero list. Often, I felt stressed for I knew I could never help him as much as how he had helped me, including all the small kind gestures.

The most depressing thing was when I tried to get back the money I lent to my old buddy years ago for his marriage, he suggested paying me back through installment but didn’t even make the first payment. I often recalled that time when he promised me to return me around two months once he received his salary, it dragged on for countless years without receiving any cent from him while his son was already three years old. The most ridiculous fact was I was probably the lowest income earner in our group of friends and I was the only one who lent him a hand. I felt betrayed and it caused me sleepless nights. I learned to be more careful with whom to help in future.

I made new friends through photography but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to meet up with most of my old friends. It was such a pity to drift away from friends who had been through a lot with me in the past. There were only a few volleyball games and thus I could only meet up with the guys once every few months.

Work

My tuition agency was giving me more headache than ever. Apart from the daily chores, I also had to build up on security for the website. It was endless trouble that most people wouldn’t know the effort and doing things behind the scene was making me feel helpless and unappreciated. The problem was that I could see many things had to be done but it was going to be a hell lots of work. All the automation and information would require time to work on, and yet without doing them, I would be doing some same boring stuff often. To sum up, the effort and time I had spent on the business overwhelmed the revenue. Eventually, it was years of effort that I couldn’t give up.

There was some slight improvement in my photography work but it didn’t make much difference though. The fund generated was not even sufficient to cover up the cost of buying the equipment. I couldn’t take up too many projects for the time I had to spend on post-production was too much. I spent more time on marketing than the actual shootings. Although I did meet many kind clients and nice models, I had also encountered many time-wasters online, in fact, more of the latter.

Fallback in Photography

I got badly slashed on the route to expand my photography portfolio when one of my younger brother’s friends showed her true colours. During the early days of my photography journey, she volunteered to collaborate with me for a couple shoot with her then boyfriend. As she was an educator and they were together for quite long, I didn’t anticipate any problem. I spent weeks to do professional post-processing work for the album and gave her ridiculously large amount of photos that would cost over three grands for the standard. Obviously, in the name of building a portfolio for couple shoot, it benefited the couple much more.

Unfortunately, they broke up a couple of years later and she asked me to remove the photos entirely because it would somehow hurt her whenever she got to see them, like as if she would even visit my portfolio. I explained to her professionally, including the fact that male and female models who didn’t know each other would take up couple shoot projects together. She probably knew the facts that I had the copyrights over the photos even though I didn’t raise the point, and she resorted in using bitchy lines to try to insult my professionalism. She was so disgusting that I could feel the chill deep inside my bones that I decided to take down the photos because having a bitch inside my portfolio would tarnish my reputation – not because I was afraid of putting my younger brother in a difficult position or what.

Alas, she got what she wanted, from the start, a free professional couple shoot which many young couple were dying for and yet couldn’t afford, and eventually, the removal of the professional work when she no longer thought they were useful to her. However, this spoiled brat had also displayed her true self – someone who could be very nice to friends during good days but could do anything to them if they were to go against her childish demands, especially during bad days.

It was a gigantic damage to me because the shoot covered three locations and I had been trying to do photoshoot in different parts of Singapore to add to my list of beautiful places in Singapore. I could persuade my clients to shoot at the same locations but every shoot would occupy weeks of my time and I could only take up a few shoots per month.

Another hurtful thing was some friends took pity of the bitch just because she broke up with her boyfriend, likely due to having different directions in life and definitely not due to any unfaithfulness. None had considered the effort and time I had put in for the entire album of over 70 professionally fully edited photos for the couple who didn’t have professional hairstyling and makeup on when the gentleman had quite bad complexion. The travelling around with the heavy photography equipment and the weeks of frustrating effort to produce the final work were taken granted for. Even the lady who had insisted me in doing commercial standard of editing photos was soft on the bitch. Even though at this point of time, my equipment and skill in photography had already far exceeded the quality of that album, the master pieces of work were already better than most of the outdoor pre-wedding shoot albums I saw in Facebook.

Finance

Despite doing freelance photography, the income generated from the shoots was entirely spent on equipment upgrades and replacement. My main income source was from the tuition agency, which could hardly cover my monthly expenditure. Dating put further pressure on me even though my girlfriend wasn’t the type of girl who would demand good food and branded stuff. From a near zero spending staying at home to having to spend for two people made a very big difference.

My younger brother unintentionally placed huge burden and pressure on me since years ago by upping the sum of contribution to the household. I had to turn down wedding invitations and I didn’t even want to renew the ridiculously expensive Singapore passport. Years of having extremely low income together with the high expenses was a torment to my brain. The most ridiculous thing was that my monthly contribution to the family and mum was a few times higher than the combination of my elder brother and his wife’s, while their combined income was a few times higher than mine. Their reason was they had to save up for their new house. Nobody had probably given a thought that I had to save up for marriage and to get myself a house, which I was dying for, in near future as well.

While my mum’s fiance health was extremely good with the extra contribution from my younger brother, nobody seemed to know what she had been spending the money on other than lottery. Often, when I came to know that she had bought useless things after being conned by strangers or friends, I would feel very upset because I couldn’t even bear to pay for some essential things for myself; even when I had to carry 18 kilograms of bulky equipment out for work, I would rather risk injuring or over-exhausting myself than to spend money on cab.

I didn’t know how I managed to survive as there were months that I had to “eat into” my saving.

Volleyball

Weitat organised and paid for using the indoor court at the OCBC Arena a few times. However, my shoulder and feet injuries (could be plantar fasciitis) made me a cripple during my last two games with them. It was terrible to feel the pain before I could even take off to do spiking. I couldn’t jump to my usual height and even if I could reach the peak, my shoulder injury forbid me from doing the swing to hit the ball. It was pretty useless to explain about my conditions when everything I said was treated as an excuse, or at least I didn’t appreciate much of the sarcasm.

Alas, I was also quite unlucky that I was always placed in the same team as one of the most competitive and inconsiderate guys. He played as the setter most of the time and I didn’t get to spike even when I was playing as the main spiker. When I was lucky, he had no choice but to set the ball to me, which happened at most twice during every set of game out of 25 points. Since it was a “no choice” situation, the ball was always delivered badly while I had already given up and thus unprepared. Playing volleyball under such situation killed my confidence. Besides, he was quite a show-off and decided to waste lots of opportunities by dropping the second ball over, as if he had a high scoring rate. Of course, I didn’t voice out since I didn’t want to make anyone feel stress or awkward over such leisure games. I hated being there just to make up the number although my main motive was to spend time with them.

Health

I got seriously ill for only a couple of times, which was much better compared to the previous years. However, more injuries plagued me as it further affected my mood for the worse. My right shoulder and feet injuries were the main devils while my girlfriend was able to reduce the pain of my back injury with her skill learned from a Taiwanese physician. She also brought me to a Chinese physician at Ang Mo Kio who further eased the pain caused by my back injury. I felt weak as all the injuries restricted my freedom of movements.

2015 was certainly one of the worst years ever. I was mentally stabbed and robbed of my calmness and patience. There were many lessons to learn from and the most important thing was become stronger and not give in to shit.

The Two “Blur” Things I Did Yesterday

It was not the worst day for me yesterday but at least I did not have a very easy afternoon.

The first joke was totally on my outfit although it might not be very obvious – I wore it the wrong way – inside out. It was after I travelled from Tanjong Pagar to Eunos, then to Bedok and finally on the way home, I noticed it. Laziness had actually caused the awkwardness as I had somehow realised it even before leaving the house. The lucky thing was that it was not easily identified as the thread’s colour was similar to the sports singlet’s main colour and that the label at the back was printed on the top itself instead of being attached with additional material. The most obvious thing was the inverted Nike logo at the front, right at the centre. Since none of the people who had been with me for the day had even noticed it, I was sure outsiders would not be staring at me so much to see through my “shame”. Throughout the journey, I kept my back on the doors of the train and tried to block the Nike logo naturally with my hands while using the phone. I got myself mentally prepared that if anyone were to ask about it, I would just reply naturally that the other side of the top was dirtied and thus I flipped the shirt over. I thought the reply was cool.

The final stunning thing I did was after I entered the lift to my house. I actually took the old lift that did not have any recorded announcement for the storeys. Two policemen came in when I was engrossed in texting on my phone. I confirmed they were going to a different storey as me since they pressed the lift button, although I did not really look at the button. When the lift’s door opened, one of them made his way out and the other one stayed put. After pausing for a couple of second, I thought the one next to me was going to another storey and thus I pressed the “close” button to close the doors. Suddenly, the first policeman tried to come in and I was confused. When they asked if I was getting out, I realised it was my storey. To be honest, I was confused by the policeman who went out to “give way” to such a small size person like me and it was not totally caused by my inattentiveness.

The only Woman You Cannot Handle

We all grow stronger over time. We learn to deal with people and stay away from those we feel difficult to talk to. However, there are some people whom we can’t avoid.

 

Woman: Do you want to eat this?

You: No.

Woman: Do you want to eat this?

You: No, don’t want.

(a while later)

Woman: This is good. Do you want to eat this?

You: No.

(a while later, the food is presented in front of you)

How are you going to react?

Option 1:

You: I don’t want to eat.

Woman: Waste my effort!

(next day, same thing happens again)

Option 2:

You (slightly higher tone): I have already told you I don’t want to eat.

Woman: Don’t want to eat then don’t want to eat lor! Don’t want to eat then say la. Waste my effort! 好心被雷劈!好心没好报! … blah blah.

(next day)

Entire world, including dogs and cats (individually): What are you so rude?

(one week later, same thing happens again)

Option 3:

(you eat it, regardless of the taste, time of the day and how full you are)

(next day, same thing happens again)

 

In life, sometimes we really don’t have a good choice when making decision. Not everyone who tries to treat you nice will be doing you good always.

Unsung Heroes

When you boast and degrade others over your contributions, you causally overlook how bits and pieces of shit are being picked up by them.

No one man can do everything while not everyone wants the limelight. Always remember the fact that no one is indispensable. Without you, life may or may not be as good, but it will still go on.

Before you sit back and walk through the past carefully, you never know you may be the cause of several major problems. Nobody is pointing fingers at you because everyone recognizes your effort and good intentions.

The next time when you try to belittle others in your team, open your eyes wide and explore how they have been doing their part to ease your life. Do not play the blaming game because it can hurt much more than what you expect.

This post is dedicated to all the unsung heroes.

03 February 2015

Year 2014 – Professional Photography Journey Began

Smart Tuition
The tuition agency business was somehow as stagnant as before. I did not have the time and energy to “expand” it. The lack of credible and suitable coordinators was the main problem. There were quite a number of people emailing us to take up the job but we did not want to take any risk as we really wanted to help clients and tutors to our best ability and not treating it like a business. It was thanks to the existing team, especially Tricia and ET, that the business was able to sustain. We continued to meet weird people along the way and I got more and more weary of dealing with ridiculous and cunning people as well.

Photography
I took my photography to the next level by upgrading to a full frame camera. More people started approaching me and I began to take up event shoot instead of just sticking to portrait shoots. It was a tiring journey. I got to meet more people both online and offline. I was very excited to interact with all the good people in real person. However, just as there were many kind people in this world, I had encountered many eat-full-nothing-to-do people. It was irritating enough for “shoppers” to enquire for the fees when I had already stated the minimal amount on the website, but there were also many who were worse. I had entertained many people who had shown so much interest in engaging my help. We chatted for long time and I gave them advices but they eventually decided to waste my time.

Family
Things were pretty much the same as previous years, except that we were all more enthusiastic towards the arrival of my elder brother’s new BTO flat, which should be ready by end of year 2015 or beginning of 2016. By then, our current flat would be more “spacious” and there would be less conflicts. My house might still be very messy since it was my mum’s characteristic to keep everything. However, there might be a change in her attitude when we had an “extra room” while my elder brother would not help to mess up the living room again. Eventually, there would be a big problem for the family as my elder brother was a handy man. Apart from that, my mum continued to put stress to me, while I worked from home, by creating

Health
I had my right arm and wrist injured for a long period of time. The arm was due to volleyball games while wrist was because of holding to the heavy camera on a single hand for long duration. I fell sick twice for a long period of time too, taking panadol tablets more than I had ever taken in my entire life. My health was badly affected by my neighbours’ puppy who barked loudly every morning. My neighbours were helpless over the aggressive dog who was trying to destroy their main door.

Volleyball
My gang was quite active for beach volleyball games until towards the end of the year. Everyone was very busy, especially for those who were doing shift jobs. We finally had an indoor court game because of Jingkun’s request before his marriage. That was the first time I played on an indoor hard court after years.

Friendship
I felt I was disconnected with most of my friends. The struggle for work and photography had massacred every single thought to catch up with my old friends. I had no time to think of giving away presents or whatsoever. In the last three months of the year, I had to attend six wedding though and I had to be the “brother” for two of them. Photography did help me gain many new friends but not many kept in touch with me, most probably because the models were mainly into getting good photos. At least, they knew my character and felt safe to be with me.

Love
Boy-girl-relationship was a flat zero score for me. Due to photography, communication with people was mainly about the hobby. I did not really find new net friends to chat, except for a few occasions, I was curious with some sites like OKcupid, Omegle and the phone app Tinder. I was too busy to utilize them. Besides, it was not my forte to fight for attention with thousands of guys.

Conclusion
My life was stagnant except for the progress in photography. I did not party nor meet friends often to chill up together. To many people, my life was boring but I was glad that I was living it differently and meaningfully. Some people might be seeking to enjoy their lives to the fullest by partying around, some wanted different experiences of sexual partners; I sought to establish a name for myself and be remembered positively after leaving this world.

Promises are Meant to be Broken Not

Dejection, disappointment, frustration – these are just part and parcel of lives. However, within this two years of my life, I have been encountering them probably on a weekly basis on average.

It all begins with my photography journey, from a total rookie to a confident photographer who has a portfolio solid enough for models and clients to approach me regularly.

Sometimes, people will ask me how I have managed to find so many models. I will tell them honestly that every beginner has to approach his friends or pay for freelance models, and when people start seeing nice work from him, they will approach him instead. Unfortunately most of the new portraiture photographers who can afford to pay for freelance models are mostly into sexy hotel kind of shoot and thus their skill is more difficult to be improved since they have to think with two heads during every shoot.

Only experienced portraiture photographers can understand the hardship I have gone through all these while. For every 10 potential or cannot-make-it models you approach, depending on your personality and popularity, probably three will be discussing enthusiastically with you. However, out of the three, two will promise to “get back to you” once they have gotten their schedule. The final one is quite likely to postpone the shoot once somehow.

Even after I have started taking projects from clients, I would still need to look out for potential models to collaborate for themes that no good-looking client will be paying for, partly for marketing purposes. There are also some friends whom I wish to take nice photos and do good write-ups about them. Model-wannabes of all shapes and looks have been approaching me. With all the friends and model-wannabes who have talked-about-heaven-and-sea with me, it is no surprise that I have been facing huge number of empty promises.

“No matter how often people are breaking their promises to me, I would never play the same game to hurt others.”

Some people say “promises are meant to be broken” but I will never agree with it; this theory is simply from people in despair and I uphold my principles till this day.

Also, I have this good friend telling me that those people who have promised me anything are nice enough to have promised me, which I have to disagree. If you are not interested in something that can benefit you as well, do not waste time and then cause more severe disappointments.

Of course, how many people still keep promises nowadays? The very few losers.

Sick of Being Sick

I had suffered a long and serious illness for the past month. It did not come as a surprise for I had been warned three months before that. During that period, I had sore throat before I slept but I always woke up feeling normal. It happened for quite a number of time and I guessed that I was saved by taking a tiny bit of manuka honey every night. However, there was also an obvious symptom – my scalp was growing acne and it was irritating.

My body had been “heaty” since young and thus I would fall sick often. I was no fan of food but I most preferred western food, fast food and just any fried food. I had been resisting them throughout my life because they made me fall sick very easily.

However, for this year, I was rather rebellious and did not practise self control. Other than taking fast food numerous times, there was a couple of times I took fried food like char kuey teow as my main course meal. My mum had also bought packet roti prata from the NTUC Fairprice for supper, which tasted quite good after frying them and she replenished it quite a few times. My mum’s porridge for lunch was rather healthy but not her dinner, which usually came with food like nuggets. I was very amazed with myself throughout the months before my body failed me.

As usual, it always started with sore throat, followed by cough and flu. I did not take my temperature but I knew I was having fever occasionally. Phlegm, blocked nose and ears were gifts from them and the worst thing was to bring down my energy. I was pretty slow in my work then.

The terrors did not leave me soon. They stayed faithfully with me for over a month. Doctor told me it was not that my body was weak, but I did not have enough rest. I had to agree.

I was badly disturbed almost every morning by my neighbour’s puppy who barked loudly for a few minutes. It was obvious that I did not sleep early and thus being woke up in the morning was a torture.

Resting during the afternoon was almost impossible with my sticky dog around. I had only two bedrooms and my mum barred Luckie from entering one and my sister-in-law did not like anyone to enter the other bedroom when she and my elder brother were not around. I could not leave Luckie alone in the living room because he would end up crying and barking so loudly that I would end up not able to sleep.

Since I was sharing bedroom with my mum and younger brother and both of them would “die” without switching the air-con on even when the weather was not very bad, I had to bear with it despite I was afraid of the low temperature. Flu was never tolerating.

While I was sick, I still had to continue with my daily administration work. It was not difficult at all but to do the same old time-consuming stuffs for the past few years was really sickening. Those boring work would not make me grow.

One of the most stressful things was to arrange for photoshoot. Things would be better if the parties I had to alias with did not give problems, and eventually, I had actually wasted my time and effort. I was all along very easygoing but some people might be fussier than me. Not everyone was very committed.

I had one of the most challenging tasks on hand, which was to update the website for my “xiao mei”. She had changed her webhost a year ago but did not migrate her files over. Somehow, she was lucky that her old files were still inside the old server and the host did not remove the files. I had to try log into both her new and old webhosts, and of course the latter did not work. In the end, I had to rip the source codes and other files from her own webhost and it included a flash file, which was calling other files. I spent a few days to fix everything for her. It was mind-blowing. In fact, she was not in a rush but I was just too determined and eager to solve her problems.

That week, I had promised to do an interior shoot for my cousin-in-law. During the first day, a Tuesday, he was astonished to see me turn up at the bar. I was wrecked by the full-equipment bags that I had carried all the way to the place when my body was so weak. He checked his phone and realised it was the correct date and time. The problem was that there were many staffs working there to setup the place as they were still in preparation for the opening the week after. Even one of the string of LED light was loosen and hanging around. We agreed to shoot during the next morning but he texted me a couple of hours before the shoot that the bar’s staffs would be there to work and thus we postponed to Friday. I had forced myself to wake up early over nothing. On Friday, I was smart enough to not bring my laptop along, in fact, there was no need to even bring my lighting along to the cramp place. The person holding to the key was not around and I had to wait outside the bar for around half an hour. Then, contractors continued to go in to fix things while the lady staff was cleaning things up. Many items such as fruits were laying around the bar counter and tables. The tables were not even in order. To conclude, it was a disaster for a photographer. I had to move things around by myself and even wiping the surfaces of the tables and it was impossible to even capture the widest shoot using my 24-70mm lens. I had to also wait for the staffs and contractors to move away before I could set the long exposure for my camera. It was one of the most horrible photoshoot I had ever done in my illness and I was not even satisfied with the angles and lighting.

The thing that had worsen my illness was the NUS TevaSUN beach volleyball competition on that Saturday. Each team consisted of five players, including one substitute. Tony, Gin, Bernard and his girlfriend signed up for it but Bernard had confinement at Palau Tekong and thus I was roped in. As the substitute who had to cover for Bernard, I had to be present so that our team would not be disqualified. I finished my TCM medicine (that was prescribed to me right before my illness turned for the worst) and I did not have time to get new medicine due to my interior shoot. Eventually, I took panadol and flu tablets to fight the virus. On the actual day of the competition, I was still very sick. Every time I tried to use my strength, I coughed badly. My head was heavy and I could not concentrate. I disgraced myself in front of all the girls. Right after showering, as I tried to blow to clear my nose, the mucus came out with blood. I knew it was not due to bruises inside my nose because I did not blow my nose hard. The situation was so bad that after I got home and tried to clear my nose again, the mucus dripped continuously for more than five seconds and it was bloody on my basin. I went to see the TCM doctor again and was lectured by her for not resting. For a week, the blood was a loyal companion. My illness took even longer to go away.

I was naive at times but at least I kept my words to everyone. I did my best but my best was far from even the level that I could accept for myself.